Cooper Landing

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Residents say there have been more power outages in Cooper Landing and Moose Pass this year. The local utility, Chugach Electric, says it’s working on the problem as part of a regular capital improvement project.

Arden Rankins hopes those repairs help. She owns Sunrise Inn on the Sterling Highway and said she had to close several times when the power went out this summer.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Winter trapping season is coming up in Alaska. 

But recreationists hoping for trapping restrictions along trails in Cooper Landing will have to wait. This week, members of the Federal Subsistence Board voted down a proposal to place setbacks alongside area trails — a plan advocates hoped could mitigate conflict between user groups.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include additional comments. 

Cooper Landing has a long history as a trapping area — besides mining, it was one of the reasons people settled there in the first place. But in recent years, it’s also become a major recreation destination. Trails verge off into the mountains all around the town, and hikers, runners, skiers and bikers like to hit the trails year-round. Many of them also love to bring their dogs along.

Kristine Route/Best Route Productions

Graduations are milestones for every family. In Cooper Landing, this year’s graduation was also a milestone for the community.

Linnaea Gossard became the Cooper Landing School’s first high school graduate Monday night, almost a decade after the K-12 school opened to high-schoolers.


Gabby Bond

Two Moose Pass classmates caught top prizes in this year’s Fish Art Contest, a competition in which students research and draw fish of their choice in the name of conservation.

Eight-year-old Gabby Bond came in second among Alaska students in her age group for her illustration of a garibaldi. 

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

There’s a new pond near Cooper Landing. It formed as snowmelt and drainage from a creek pooled in the underpass at the bottom of Skyline Trail, blocking hikers from going under the highway to get from the parking lot to the trailhead.

The underpass is new. It was built in 2019 and cost the state just under $400,000, as part of a larger Sterling Highway rehabilitation project.

Now, it’s unpassable because of all the water.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Trappers and recreationists have long been at odds over trapping restrictions in Cooper Landing.

Tensions came to a head several years ago when the Alaska Board of Game quashed a proposal to ban trailside trapping, citing a lack of compromise between activists on either side.

Now, several Cooper Landing residents are reigniting the conversation. They’ve surveyed locals on where they’d like to see trapping setbacks and will use the data to craft a proposal for the Board of Game and the Federal Subsistence Management Board.

Department of Transportation

Regardless of how the tourism season shapes up, Cooper Landing will have over 100 new faces this summer.

They’ll be in town to work on the Sterling Highway bypass project, the plan to divert traffic between mileposts 45 and 60 of the highway up to a bridge across Juneau Creek Canyon. Construction is ramping up on the project this summer.

KPB

When conditions are right, residents of Caribou Island, in the middle of Skilak Lake, can get to their properties through an easement on the island’s south side.

It’s one of several ways to access the island’s 223 lots and it borders property belonging to Michael and Peggy Clements, of Sterling.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Mama Cupcake is a fluffy white Angora rabbit who lives in Cooper Landing. 

On Tuesday afternoon, she was snuggled up with three of her newborns in a big blue bucket.

“I left most of her babies at home, because we’re in the process of weening,” said Rachel Sullivan. She’s the owner of these bunnies and of Hibernation Textiles, a Cooper Landing-based small business.


Sabine Poux/KDLL

A two-mile loop around the Devil’s Creek Trailhead is packed down for the first time for nordic skiing.

Volunteers in Cooper Landing have been grooming the Russian River Campground and Quartz Creek area for over a decade, through a partnership with the U.S. Forest Service. 

Anticipating ongoing improvements to the Russian River Campground entrance and a beetle kill mitigation project, the service suggested opening an alternative trail, said David Story, who chairs the town’s Trails Committee.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Cooper Landing and Moose Pass have been without internet and telephone service since Friday due to damaged lines near Moose Pass.

Trees fell on Chugach Electric power lines early Friday morning, triggering power outages.

Those lines were later fixed, but there are still damages to adjacent TelAlaska lines, which provide local phone service and internet to both communities. TelAlaska had to wait for Chugach Electric to fix its lines before starting on its own repairs, said TelAlaska Marketing Manager Celine Kaplan.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

If you’ve traveled the Kenai Peninsula, you’ve passed Wildman’s in Cooper Landing. If you’ve been hungry after a hike, had to use the bathroom on the way to Anchorage or needed a lift from your boat to your car, you may have even stopped in. Perhaps you never make it past mile 47.5 without pulling over for a waffle cone or cup of Kaladi Brothers Coffee.

Love the place enough and it could be yours, for $1.4 million. Owner Cheryle James put the Sterling Highway mainstay on the market two and a half years ago.


Sabine Poux/KDLL

Alaska grocery store chain Three Bears Alaska has purchased 13 acres in Cooper Landing to build a store there.

Company president Dave Weisz said Three Bears brought the piece of land, on the Sterling Highway, across Quartz Creek from the borough’s transfer facility, from a private property owner last winter. Now, it’s coordinating with the Kenai Peninsula Borough about building requirements.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

With more than a third of the design complete, the Alaska Department of Transportation wants to hear from the public about its plan for the Sterling Highway bypass, between mileposts 45 and 60.

Members of the public can view the online presentation and contact DOT with questions until Nov. 5. Project staff took questions and comments via live online chat this evening.

There was also an in-person Q&A scheduled for this Thursday in Cooper Landing, though that has since been canceled due to low RSVPs.

Courtesy of Virginia Morgan

Books are said to expand new horizons for readers. In Cooper Landing, the new library cards offer a vista, as well.

Each card is a small, laminated copy of a scratchboard drawing by Tony Morgan, an artist who grew up in the unincorporated riverside town and now lives in St. Helens, Oregon. It shows a book with the name of the library on it, set against the backdrop of a mountain and layers of trees. 

“The scratchboard has a clay backer on it, and it’s painted with ink, and then you go in and scratch out the parts you don’t want, basically,” Tony said.

“Then I kind of, with the color and everything, I went through and I drew it,” he added. “I think I did another hand-drawn ink layer and then just did it in my digital spot color, so it looks kind of like those WPA posters from the ’40s.”

The keychain version of the card shows the Kenai River weaving through the mountains, a view apropos of Cooper Landing.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

Driving through Cooper Landing lately, it’s hard not to notice the swath of trees cut down north of the highway. Or what will become the old highway as the new alignment of the Sterling Highway is built between miles 45 and 60.

This is the first year of noticeable construction on the project.

Project Manager Sean Holland, with the Alaska Department of Transportation, says it’s going well, all things considered.

“We were struck with a fire last year so our survey got shut down for six or eight weeks, and then we come up with a pandemic this year so I don’t know if it could get any worse next year but we’re still making good progress anyway,” Holland said.

Elizabeth Earl / KDLL

Frequent hikers in the Cooper Landing area may be familiar with one of the favorite community hikes: Slaughter Gulch. The trail meanders through a forested half mile before jaunting up a grueling mile and a half to an alpine ridge, leading hikers up another steep peak ascent that looks down over the bright teal ribbon of Kenai Lake and the Kenai River.

Until the last month or two, it was uncommon to see more than a handful of hikers on it at any time. But starting in May, dozens of cars started showing up at the trail, parking on the Sterling Highway shoulder and anywhere nearby they could find.

ADOT/HDR

Design work is continuing on the Sterling Highway Mile 45 to 60 project, otherwise known as the Cooper Landing bypass. The Department of Transportation’s schedule calls for work to begin in 2020, with the project open to traffic in 2025.

Katherine Wood, public outreach lead with HDR, the engineering firm doing the design for the project, gave an update in Cooper Land on Feb. 25. The project will be tackled in five phases. Phase one is improving the existing highway at either end of the project. Phase two is constructing a bridge over Juneau Creek.

Phase three is creating an embankment on the east end of the project where the new road will leave the existing highway near the Quartz Creek Road intersection and head up to the Juneau Creek crossing. Phase four is constructing the new highway to the west of Juneau Creek to where it rejoins the existing highway at Mile 56. Phase five is finish work — signage, striping and creating a new trailhead for Reserection Pass Trail.

“Our overall schedule really hasn’t changed. The west piece of the on-alignment part of the project will be bid to a contractor this fall to enable construction to start next year. And the east will be bid in 2021,” Wood said.

 

Hikers around Cooper Landing may soon see some new signs that are really aimed at trappers. KDLL’s Shaylon Cochran spoke with Lorraine Temple about the Cooper Landing Safe Trails initiative that hopes to bring some change to winter recreation in the area.

 


Winter work continues on Cooper Landing Bypass

Dec 11, 2019
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities

 

Prep work continues on the long-anticipated Cooper Landing Bypass project. The upfront work began this fall with the first of five phases. The project will work from either end, at mileposts 45 and 60, and in toward the middle.

 

DOT taking comments for Cooper Landing Bypass

Oct 30, 2019
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities

 

Residents in Cooper Landing got an update on the planned bypass highway project Tuesday night. In the works for decades, the Cooper Landing bypass would reroute a portion of the Sterling Highway to the north of Cooper Landing and away from current path that closely, sometimes fatally, follows the Kenai River.

Swan Lake fire continues push east toward Cooper Landing

Aug 27, 2019
Alaska Division of Forestry

 

School was cancelled in Cooper Landing Tuesday, as the Swan Lake fire pushed farther to the east, and crossed the Resurrection Trail north of the Sterling Highway Monday night. Crews spent Monday doing back burn operations intended to keep the active fire off the highway, which had been the case Sunday night.

With the multiple closures of the Sterling Highway since Sunday morning, many motorists found themselves stranded in Cooper Landing. After all, a 15-mile back-up stretched east from there by Monday morning.
    That captive audience actually made for a pretty good day for Wildman’s, Cooper Landing’s “everything” store.
    “We had a lot of people stop in. It was a good day yesterday,” said owner Cheryl James. “We had several people sleeping in our parking lot. There were people in line out there for 12 hours waiting to go through.”

Firefighters thankful for weather break

Jul 11, 2019
Alaska Division of Forestry

Fire managers held another community meeting in Cooper Landing last (Wed.) night. Residents were updated on the Swan Lake Fire's progress since the last meeting on Friday. Cool, moist marine air has dampened the 100,000 acre blaze and reduced its intensity, if not the smoke.
Residents were told how the terrain and weather is resulting in a lot of "low intensity" burning in tundra, bogs and muskeg.

Kenai Conversation: Mona Painter

Feb 6, 2019

Mona Painter has watched Cooper Landing grow up since she moved to the area in 1958 and serves as a kind of historian for this quiet part of the Peninsula. On this week's Kenai Conversation, host Shaylon Cochran sits down with Painter to recall some of those earlier days, how the town coped with the 1964 Good Friday earthquake and how things changed with the introduction of electricity, telephone and television service.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

Where there's smoke there's good beer flavor and let's hear it for the women in brewing history. Bill also checks in with Bleeding Heart Brewery in Palmer and get details about the Cooper Landing's plans to build a new brewery.

tripadvisor.com

 

Among other changes planned for highway travel through Cooper Landing, a speed limit change could also be on the horizon.

Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities

It’s been over 40 years in the making, and will likely be a couple more before construction actually begins, but the Cooper Landing highway bypass project moved a significant step forward this week.


Cooper Landing Gun Club finds space for new range

Jan 30, 2018
Cooper Landing Gun Club

 

Sportshooters in Cooper Landing may soon have a new facility to sharpen their aim. The borough planning commission will take up a motion this week to lease 66 acres for a new shooting range.

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